10:25 AM 3/11/2018 – Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico – Google Search and Links Review

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Castro’s Legacy in Puerto Rico

Foreign AffairsDec 13, 2016
There were few causes closer to Fidel Castro’s heart—and none more likely to arouse the ire of his country’s superpower neighbor—than the status of Puerto Rico, which came under U.S. control after the Spanish–American War in 1898, the very same conflict that led to Cuba’s independence. Given Cuba’s … 
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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks 10:25 AM 3/11/2018

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico – Google Search

Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico – Google Search
How Fidel Castro Supported Terrorism in America – WSJ
History of Puerto Rico – Wikipedia
El Ala Olvidada: Cuba Libre vs Puerto Rico Colony
On Fidel’s Death, Cuba and Puerto Rico, Two Paths Intertwined
Puerto Rico and Cuba – Google Search
Castro’s Legacy in Puerto Rico
How Fidel Castro Supported Terrorism in America « Cuba Confidential
Why Did Obama Free This Terrorist?
Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera secret deal – Google Search
Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera – Google Search
Obama cuba puerto rico – Google Search
Everything changes in Cuba | The new day
Colombia’s new, legal drug lords hope to sell medical marijuana to the world – The Washington Post
James Clapper: Not credible to say Russian meddling had no impact – YouTube
FCC chairman proposes $954 million plan for Puerto Rico, USVI Caribbean Business
IMPRESSIVE!!! Drone Footage Historic Coastal Floods in Puerto Rico 2018 – YouTube
Liquidity in the Electric Power Authority improves
puerto rico – YouTube
Project Loon: Delivering emergency connectivity in Puerto Rico – YouTube
Rebuilding Puerto Rico – YouTube
0:08 Did Donald Trump abandon Puerto Rico? | UpFront – YouTube
Months after Hurricane Maria, ‘people have changed’ in Puerto Rico – YouTube
Puerto Rico’s governor takes steps to privatize power utility

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico – Google Search
 

mikenova shared this story from Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico – Google News.

Story image for Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico from The Militant

See Cuba’s revolution on May Day Brigade!

The MilitantMar 9, 2018
How do you explain the selfless sacrifice, valor and heroism of those Cuban fighters who gave their lives to overthrow the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and bring a workers and farmers government to power? The way Fidel Castro and the Rebel Army insisted that moral values above all …

Story image for Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico from NorthJersey.com

Kelly: The enduring wound of cop-killer Joanne Chesimard

<a href=”http://NorthJersey.com” rel=”nofollow”>NorthJersey.com</a>Feb 9, 2018
With a $2 million bounty for her arrest and a spot on the FBI’s most wanted list of terrorists, Chesimard has long been a tempting carrot that might cause … has lived for four decades after being granted political asylum by Fidel Castro who praised what he called her revolutionary acts against racist America.

Story image for Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico from Workers World

Revolutionary Cuba defeated illiteracy– in one year!

Workers WorldFeb 18, 2018
10: first, an event hosted by the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party in the Bronx; and then, one sponsored by the New York-New Jersey Cuba Sí Coalition in mid-Manhattan. The latter involved over … Aguilera began by citing Fidel Castro´s 1953 courtroom self-defense titled “History Will Absolve Me.” She said in …

Story image for Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico from Wall Street Journal

How Fidel Castro Supported Terrorism in America

Wall Street JournalJun 8, 2017
The decision to honor Oscar López Rivera, a terrorist who spent 35 years in federal prison, at New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday unleashed a firestorm. Organizers named López Rivera—released in February under an 11th-hour clemency from President Obama —the parade’s first-ever “National …

Story image for Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico from The Militant

‘The Cuban people made a real revolution, it changed everything’

The MilitantFeb 23, 2018
Some 700,000 workers and peasants learned to read and write during what the Cubans called the “Year of Education.” The campaign came just two years after workers and peasants had overthrown the U.S.-supported dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Fidel Castro and the revolutionary leadership knew …

Story image for Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico from teleSUR English

JFK Files Expose CIA Plot to Stage Miami Bombings and Blame …

teleSUR EnglishOct 27, 2017
The CIA considered bombing Miami and other cities to create a terror threat while blaming the government of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, … The files were published as part of the nearly 3,000 documents collected by the U.S. National Archive on the assassination of former President John F.

Story image for Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico from Miami Herald

Cuba continues to support terrorism

Miami HeraldJun 5, 2017
Raúl Castro, succeeded his late brother Fidel, who for many years sent agents to sow terrorism in Latin American and Europe. Today, Cuba continues to harbor a convicted … Oscar Lopez Rivera is a Puerto Rican terrorist whose sentence was commuted by Obama. Raúl Castro sent his congratulations and …
Fidel Castro and Terrorism in America and Puerto Rico – Google Search
 

mikenova shared this story .

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How Fidel Castro Supported Terrorism in America – WSJ
 

mikenova shared this story .

Puerto Rican nationalist and terrorist leader Oscar López Rivera in Chicago, May 18.
Puerto Rican nationalist and terrorist leader Oscar López Rivera in Chicago, May 18. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency
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The decision to honor Oscar López Rivera, a terrorist who spent 35 years in federal prison, at New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday unleashed a firestorm. Organizers named López Rivera—released in February under an 11th-hour clemency from President Obama —the parade’s first-ever “National Freedom Hero.”

In response, major sponsors such as Goya, Coca-Cola , Univision, Jet Blue and the Yankees pulled their support. New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill is refusing to march, as are several Democratic politicians, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The wariness over López Rivera—who’ll still march, though he’s said he’ll forgo the “hero” designation—is well-founded. The group he helped lead, the pro-independence Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña, or FALN, was one of the most prolific terrorist organizations of its time. Between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, the FALN perpetrated more than 130 bombings. It was responsible for the 1975 explosion at Fraunces Tavern, which killed four and wounded 63; a bombing spree in New York City in August 1977 that killed one, injured six, and forced the evacuation of 100,000 office workers; and the purposeful targeting and maiming of four police officers, among many other vicious crimes.

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Carnage on this scale was possible because of the FALN’s organizational and operational sophistication—including its numerous connections to communist Cuba and its intelligence services. Those connections have been known to law enforcement for decades.

According to court documents, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, who is believed to have helped co-found the FALN, told an undercover NYPD officer in 1983 that he had received explosives training in Cuba. And the FBI estimated that by 1973, roughly 135 Puerto Rican militants had received “extensive instruction in guerilla war tactics, preparation of explosive artifacts, and sophisticated methods of sabotage” from Fidel Castro’s intelligence services.

The full extent of the FALN’s Cuba connections is unknown. But they may be more enduring than has been publicly reported. According to an NYPD document I discovered at the Hoover Institution archives at Stanford—undated, but apparently circa 1977—by that time officials had come to believe that “the FALN was started in the mid-1960’s with a nucleus of Puerto Rican terrorists that received advanced training in Cuba. . . . After their advanced training in Cuba they returned to Puerto Rico and a wave of bombings and incendiary incidents struck the [latter] island. Within the last few years they have shifted their activities to the mainland. . . . It is believed that they have maintained close links and may in fact work closely with Cuban intelligence operatives.”

That training would help explain the FALN’s professionalism, as well as its ability to bedevil law enforcement. An FALN instructional manual, which I also found at Hoover, includes sophisticated directives for compartmentalized clandestine communications between different “cadres,” or cells, as well as espionage and countersurveillance techniques. “One must observe religiously the rules and regulations of security in order to protect the organization, its cadres, its secrets, its documents, its arms, [safe] houses, and other instruments of work,” the document says. According to the manual, this hyperattention to security even extended to meetings of the MLN, the FALN’s above-ground political organization.

Viewed from this broader perspective, the FALN was not merely a “highly motivated and intelligent adversary,” as the NYPD document I found puts it. It was an instrument in the decadeslong shadow war between the U.S. and Cuba.

This is not to minimize the pro-independence sentiment in Puerto Rico, or the historical, cultural and emotional bonds that tie the two islands together. The Spanish-American War, which gave Cuba its independence, also led to Puerto Rico’s annexation by the U.S. But from Castro’s perspective, training a group of dedicated Marxist militants, whose actions would then destabilize major American cities such as New York and Chicago (as well as Puerto Rico itself), would help form a relatively low-cost, and covert, strategy for weakening his greatest antagonist.

On May 17 López Rivera was released from house arrest, 3½ months after departing prison. The Cuban regime applauded. “Please accept our fraternal congratulations on behalf of the Party, government and people, who share the joy of your liberation,” said President Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother. “We await you in Cuba, with all the honors and affection you deserve, whenever it may be possible for you.”

Mr. Castro neglected to mention that Cuba already plays host to another FALN leader: William Morales, one of the group’s bomb-makers, who after escaping from a U.S. prison in 1979 found his way to Havana. Much of the story of Oscar López Rivera and the FALN takes place far from the streets of Spanish Harlem, Humboldt Park or San Juan.

Mr. Dorfman is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

Appeared in the June 9, 2017, print edition.

History of Puerto Rico – Wikipedia
 

mikenova shared this story .

United States rule (1898–present)[edit]

Military government[edit]

Raising the US Flag over San Juan, October 18, 1898.

After the ratification of the Treaty of Paris of 1898, Puerto Rico came under the military control of the United States of America. This brought about significant changes: the name of the island was changed to Porto Rico (it would be changed back to Puerto Rico in 1932) and the currency was changed from the Puerto Rican peso to the United States dollar.[42] Freedom of assembly, speech, press, and religion were decreed and an eight-hour day for government employees was established. A public school system was begun and the U.S. Postal service was extended to the island. The highway system was enlarged, and bridges over the more important rivers were constructed. The government lottery was abolished, cockfighting was forbidden, and a centralized public health service established.[43] Health conditions were poor at the time, with high rates of infant mortality and numerous endemic diseases.

El Ala Olvidada: Cuba Libre vs Puerto Rico Colony
 

mikenova shared this story .

Since Fidel Castro’s death the chant of “Cuba Libre” has resonated all over Miami. Pictures of the Cuban flag, pictures of the Coke and rum drink, pictures and videos of Cubans rejoicing over the possibility of their country becoming free from a communist dictatorship – has me thinking about my beloved Puerto Rico.

What happened with the independence movement in Puerto Rico? Why is it that while the Cubans pray for the day their country is LIBRE again – Puerto Ricans aim to be part of the US as a state or as a “commonwealth”? History tells us and every Puerto Rican and Cuban knows the saying that the islands are of the same bird two wings – “de un ave las dos alas”. History also teaches us that the closest Puerto Rico ever came to being an independent nation was just before the Spanish American War when our “proceres” and those in Cuba worked together for both islands to receive their liberty from Spain.

This dream was never to be and while Cuba was given its independence in 1902 by the United States, Puerto Rico became an experiment of colonialism. An experiment that became so much more important when it was transformed to THE example of democracy while Cuba became the first Marxist and Communist country in the Western Hemisphere and an example of the USSR Cold War doctrine.

Just before the Cuban Revolution, Puerto Rico tried to be free – the independent movement much stronger than what it is nowadays. We could see next door to the other “ala” of the bird and watch how the Cuban economy grew pushed by the sugarcane economy, casinos, and yes, other kind of dictators, while Puerto Rico between 1898 and 1942 was left lingering economically. It was not until Operation Bootstrap in 1942 and after WWII that Puerto Rico started to finally be a viable colonial enterprise. During the 1930’s and 1940’s Puerto Rico experienced the highest fervor of independence movement that was quickly and swiftly squashed by the US.

Jump to a decade later and the son of Luis Munoz Rivera – one of the biggest leaders of the autonomy movement for Puerto Rico – pushed a new form of government for the island – the Commonwealth or Estado Libre Asociado – which shouldn’t be confused with other global commonwealths as it was only for Puerto Rico. Although the U.S. went to the U.N. in 1953 and ratified in front of the diplomatic world that Puerto Rico could be taken out of the list of non-self-governing territories – via Resolution 748-, more recently the Supreme Court resolved via their 6-2 decision in Commonwealth of Puerto v Sanchez Valle that Puerto Rico has been and still is exactly that -a colony of the United States.

Next door in the other “ala”, Fidel Castro had overtaken – thanks to the “working class” – the government. Thought of as a savior of the lower classes, it fast became obvious that oppression of any dissidents to his views would follow. For the next sixty years Castro would be the mighty dictator of Cuba, bettering some things while destroying most of the economic advances Cuba had made in its 50+ years of independence before his regime started. More than a million – or 10% of the population left the island – with the 1960’s and the Mariel Boatlift in 1980 being the two largest exoduses.

While Cuba suffered, Puerto Rico was injected with US federal money. Through the next five decades Puerto Rico saw its economy grow and prosper – and the chants of Puerto Rico Libre became less and less heard, while a two-party system grew – one that wanted statehood, the other keeping the commonwealth status. Yes, there were Independentistas in the island and outside too – the most famous now being Oscar Lopez Rivera who has been in jail for 35 years (and counting), considered a “terrorist” by the US government because he fought for Puerto Rico’s independence. If this was a Cuban-American fighting for the independence of Cuba would he be considered a terrorist or a hero? Or if Lopez Rivera was in the position of Patty Hearst, rich heiress turned Symbionist fighter turned heiress once again (and pardoned for her crimes against the US) would he still be in jail?

The truth is that now Cuba could be in the threshold of becoming a new economic power in the Caribbean with 11+ million inhabitants and 42,000 sq. miles of virgin soil while 3.4 million Puerto Ricans have been reminded of its colonial status by the imposition of an Oversight Fiscal Board which rules over its “commonwealth” government so it can pay an outrageous 72 billion in dues. While Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and can easily migrate to the US, they are leaving behind an impoverished island that has been on a recession for the last decade.

So, while Cubans celebrate the possibility of a renewed Cuba Libre – Puerto Rico’s lack of “self-determination” lingers between the archaic words of the Insular Cases and the way Congress and the Supreme Court want to understand it. There is no Puerto Rico Libre to be considered – at least not for now.

On Fidel’s Death, Cuba and Puerto Rico, Two Paths Intertwined
 

mikenova shared this story .

I was a young teenager when Fidel Castro came to power. But I remember it well. I remember my mother exclaiming with joy at the triumph of this brilliant orator and revolutionary who came down from the Sierra Maestra. Nothing like this had been seen in the Caribbean, or in Latin America, or in the world, for that matter. My mother loved it that Fidel, like herself, was a lawyer, and that he spoke in poetry and reached the heights of international acclaim.

She and my journalist aunt and my actor-director uncle and their friends in our island home, Puerto Rico, celebrated the triumph of the Cuban revolution in January 1959 as if it were our own. The fierce adulation of Castro ran deep and outlasted the early waves of anti-Castro hardliners who chose to live in Puerto Rico.

Cubans React to Death of Fidel Castro 1:17

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After Miami, Puerto Rico became home to the second largest Cuban exile community. While they went on to own successful businesses and enterprises, provoking admiration and envy, many Puerto Ricans were still fixated on Fidel. They envisioned the Cuban revolution as a model of sovereignty, something that had – and has – eluded Puerto Rico.

“The stories of the two islands are permanently intertwined,” says Warren James, a New York-based Puerto Rican architect. There is a deep historical and cultural connection between the two islands that dates back to 1898, the end of the Spanish-American war, when the United States seized Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines from Spain.

RELATED: Cuba After Castro: How Much Change, And How Quickly?

This relationship between Puerto Ricans and Cubans was palpable with Fidel’s death, touching off memories and bone-deep emotions on both sides. Nothing had passed into memory, nothing had faded, and it was all there in full force this weekend.

“As Fidel Castro’s body is being prepared for cremation and a state funeral, thousands of Cuban people of faith and democracy activists are detained and arrested in record numbers by the Cuban secret police,” says Kristina Arriaga, a Cuban American who grew up in Puerto Rico and is the executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “His death marks the end of an era but his repressive regime lives on.”

Political Leaders React to the Death Of Cuba’s Fidel Castro 1:58

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Arriaga remembers her father’s words on his deathbed five years ago in their home in Puerto Rico. At the time, her father no longer recalled her or her siblings or mother, but when a news broadcast started with a story about Cuba, Fidel appeared on the screen. “My father’s eyes narrowed in recognition, and he uttered, ‘That man.’”

RELATED: ‘An End of an Era,’ Say Cuban Americans in Miami After Castro’s Death

“As far back as I can remember,” Arriaga wrote in an essay about that day, “that man, Fidel, was a permanent fixture in my household.’’ She went on to detail atrocities, imprisonments, firing squad executions, and persecution of homosexuals, priests and nuns in a reign of terror.

“In 1977, while thousands of Cuban men and women languished in prison for crimes they had never committed, facing daily beatings and torture, Barbara Walters aired an interview with Fidel that hailed him as the romantic savior of the Cuban people,” she said. “Thus continued the love affair of most of the world, including many Americans, with Fidel.”

RELATED: While History is Made in Cuba, What About Puerto Rico?

Mariola Montequín, who was born in Puerto Rico of Cuban parents, harnessed lifelong anguish, saying, “Let’s celebrate today not just the death of a bloody tyrant but the death of division, the death of repression, the death of fear for the Cuban people.”

With pride, she alluded to a bottle of Montequín Ron which her grandparents had brought to exile in Puerto Rico hoping to one day celebrate Free Cuba, and now she would celebrate at Christmas.

For all the talk of a special relationship between Puerto Ricans and Cubans, schisms exist and none perhaps runs deeper than on the subject of Fidel Castro.

On Saturday morning, soon after hearing the news of Fidel’s death, Nelly Cruz, a well-known publicist in San Juan, posted a sympathetic note on Facebook that said, “Rest in peace, Fidel Castro Ruz, the Latin American leader of highest stature in the world and who was always a supporter of Puerto Rico and its fight for sovereignty.” She was immediately trolled in the harshest way by anti-Fidelistas in Puerto Rico.

Looking back to another time, Yrsa Davila, a Puerto Rican executive of Cuban ancestry, tells me that in the 1970s to 1980s, the Cuban revolution was a model for activist Puerto Ricans who hoped that their island would one day win independence from the United States. “Everyone wanted to go to Cuba and feel revolutionary,” she recalls.

But she wasn’t entirely sold. She saw families torn apart by the Castro regime but she also saw right-wing factions who persecuted young Fidel supporters.

“On balance, I recognize the merits of the Cuban revolution – but by no means overlook the dictatorial system, fusilamientos [firing squads], abuse against the homosexual community,” said Davila.

Castro definitely left a mark, she says, “and he has not died, he lives in every one of the Cubans, regardless of ideology. That merit must be acknowledged.”

Growing up in Puerto Rico in the 1960s, with parents who feared a communist takeover of the island if it were to become independent, Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé, head of Latin American and Latino Studies at Fordham University, went on to college in United States and joined student movements in the 1970s who saw Fidel as the foremost leader of anticolonial struggles and “an unyielding supporter of Puerto Rico’s inalienable right to self-determination.”

Former Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro Dead at 90 4:14

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But in time, Cruz-Malavé says, “we would come to temper our admiration for Fidel and the Cuban revolution as we began to question the revolution’s policies toward intellectuals and sexual dissidents during what historians have called the ‘gray five-year period’ of the early 1970s, a time when we in Puerto Rico and the United States engaged both in radical nationalist and gay liberation movements.”

Politically, Fidel’s death brings symmetry to Cuba and Puerto Rico, says Andrés Lopez, a lawyer and Democratic Party fundraiser in San Juan.

RELATED: Opinion: Puerto Rico’s Crisis? Let’s Look at Our U.S. History

“As a kid, growing up in the shadow of the Cold War, our view of Castro’s Cuba was entirely colored by Cuba’s relationship to us, Puerto Rico,” he said, explaining that with the specter of communism in Cuba, the U.S. tried to market Puerto Rico as a “showcase of democracy.”

But it was a myth, he said. Puerto Rico was, and is today, almost entirely populated by American citizens who cannot vote for president or for the Congress that makes laws that affect Puerto Ricans’ daily lives, hardly the perfect democracy. At the same time, on Cuba’s end, support for the Castro myth has seriously eroded.

“Amazingly, now as an adult, I have seen the old Cuban and Puerto Rican myths collapse in the same year,” Lopez says.

Warren James, the architect, looks at it differently. While Cuba was closing in the 1960s, Puerto Rico was opening.

“We saw the Cuban revolution from the other end of the telescope. Today, I think, on the one hand, of my extended Cuban family in Puerto Rico and in Cuba. There is no going back. We live in two rooms in the same house.”

Follow NBC News Latino on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Puerto Rico and Cuba – Google Search
 

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Story image for Puerto Rico and Cuba from Rio Grande Guardian

Emilio Cueto, Cuba in the USA

Rio Grande GuardianFeb 13, 2018
When Castro took over, in the early 1960’s, the Cuban government nationalized oil, sugar, rum and tobacco production. Thus arises the issue of a ‘Doppleganger’ brand like Havana Club Rum manufactured both in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Cueto says that Havana Club Rum is manufactured in Cubawith …

Story image for Puerto Rico and Cuba from WWSB ABC 7

USFSM hosts successful seminar on Cuba and the Caribbean

WWSB ABC 7Feb 26, 2018
The seminar, “Cuba and the Caribbean: What Now?” focused on past and current travel and investment options in Cuba, the nation’s economic and political outlook, and the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria last summer on Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys. “We have a really …
Castro’s Legacy in Puerto Rico
 

mikenova shared this story .

There were few causes closer to Fidel Castro’s heart—and none more likely to arouse the ire of his country’s superpower neighbor—than the status of Puerto Rico, which came under U.S. control after the Spanish–American War in 1898, the very same conflict that led to Cuba’s independence. Given Cuba’s own experience with Spanish rule and U.S. occupation, the Cuban leader was always ready to champion decolonization.

But with an increasing chorus of prominent individuals—from politicians such as Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez, to celebrities such as Ricky Martin and Lin-Manuel Miranda—calling for President Obama to commute the sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera, the alleged leader of the FALN (a militant Puerto Rican separatist group), Castro’s support for radical Puerto Rican “independistas” deserves renewed scrutiny.

Castro considered Cuba and Puerto Rico “two wings of the same bird,” as the Puerto Rican poet Lola Rodriguez de Tio, put it; “They receive flowers and bullets into the same heart.” Indeed, Castro echoed this line during a secret meeting with U.S. officials in Havana in 1978, calling Cuba and Puerto Rico “two islands of the same sea, and two daughters of the same history, with a common language and culture and association with Latin American, not Anglo-Saxon, countries.” He believed that this shared history precluded perpetual U.S. control over the island. “From the depths of our hearts,” he continued, “we reject the idea that Puerto Rico could be a state of the United States.” In the following decades, Cuba publicly pressed for independence for Puerto Rico.

Just how far Castro took this policy, however, remains a matter of debate. Questions still loom about the extent of Cuba’s covert support for violent Puerto Rican separatists such as the FALN, based in the United States, and the Macheteros, based in Puerto Rico. Some on the left have argued that accusations about the FALN’s Cuba connections are part of an attempt

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How Fidel Castro Supported Terrorism in America « Cuba Confidential
 

mikenova shared this story from Cuba Confidential.

Puerto Rican nationalist and terrorist leader Oscar López Rivera in Chicago, May 18. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

‘FALN was started in the mid-1960’s with a nucleus . . . that received advanced training in Cuba.’

By Zach Dorfman, Wall Street Journal

The decision to honor Oscar López Rivera, a terrorist who spent 35 years in federal prison, at New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday unleashed a firestorm. Organizers named López Rivera—released in February under an 11th-hour clemency from President Obama —the parade’s first-ever “National Freedom Hero.”

In response, major sponsors such as Goya, Coca-Cola , Univision, Jet Blue and the Yankees pulled their support. New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill is refusing to march, as are several Democratic politicians, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The wariness over López Rivera—who’ll still march, though he’s said he’ll forgo the “hero” designation—is well-founded. The group he helped lead, the pro-independence Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña, or FALN, was one of the most prolific terrorist organizations of its time. Between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, the FALN perpetrated more than 130 bombings. It was responsible for the 1975 explosion at Fraunces Tavern, which killed four and wounded 63; a bombing spree in New York City in August 1977 that killed one, injured six, and forced the evacuation of 100,000 office workers; and the purposeful targeting and maiming of four police officers, among many other vicious crimes.

Carnage on this scale was possible because of the FALN’s organizational and operational sophistication—including its numerous connections to communist Cuba and its intelligence services. Those connections have been known to law enforcement for decades.

According to court documents, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, who is believed to have helped co-found the FALN, told an undercover NYPD officer in 1983 that he had received explosives training in Cuba. And the FBI estimated that by 1973, roughly 135 Puerto Rican militants had received “extensive instruction in guerilla war tactics, preparation of explosive artifacts, and sophisticated methods of sabotage” from Fidel Castro’s intelligence services.

The full extent of the FALN’s Cuba connections is unknown. But they may be more enduring than has been publicly reported. According to an NYPD document I discovered at the Hoover Institution archives at Stanford—undated, but apparently circa 1977—by that time officials had come to believe that “the FALN was started in the mid-1960’s with a nucleus of Puerto Rican terrorists that received advanced training in Cuba. . . . After their advanced training in Cuba they returned to Puerto Rico and a wave of bombings and incendiary incidents struck the [latter] island. Within the last few years they have shifted their activities to the mainland. . . . It is believed that they have maintained close links and may in fact work closely with Cuban intelligence operatives.”

Feature continues here: Cuban Support to Terrorists

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Why Did Obama Free This Terrorist?
 

mikenova shared this story .

On January 17, 2017, as one of the final acts of his presidency, Barack Obama commuted the sentence of 74-year-old Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Puerto Rican nationalist who had served 35 years of a 55-year conviction for the crime of “seditious conspiracy,” as well as attempted robbery, explosives and vehicle-theft charges. Thanks to Obama’s intercession, Lopez will be freed in May.

In some quarters, Obama’s decision was greeted with elation. Spontaneous celebrations broke out in San Juan. Luis Gutiérrez, a Democratic congressman from Illinois who represents the West Side Chicago neighborhood in which Lopez grew up, said in a statement that he was “overjoyed and overwhelmed” by Lopez’s release. “Oscar is a friend, a mentor, and family to me,” wrote Gutierrez. According to the New York Daily News, Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the New York City Council and a rising Democratic Party star, cried when she heard the news, calling Lopez’s release “incredible” and a “morale boost” for Puerto Rico. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who lobbied hard for Lopez’s commutation, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio both offered Obama their thanks. And Lin Manuel Miranda, who has been a vocal proponent for Lopez, tweeted that he was “sobbing with gratitude.” (He furthermore added that he would reprise his role in “Hamilton” for one night in Chicago in Lopez’s honor.)

Story Continued Below

Lopez’s supporters refer to him as a “political prisoner” or “independence activist,” and characterize him as a man unfairly and harshly targeted by the U.S. government for his beliefs. He has even been called “Puerto Rico’s Nelson Mandela.”

The truth, alas, is considerably darker than that.

Most Americans may not have heard of Lopez, or the organization he helped lead, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), a radical Marxist Puerto Rican independence group. With the focus of post-9/11 terrorism falling almost exclusively on Islamist radicals, the violent nationalists of yesteryear—Puerto Rican, Cuban, Croatian and Jewish—have faded into obscurity. But during the FALN’s explosive heyday under Lopez’s leadership, the group was anything but obscure. In fact, from 1974, when the group announced itself with its first bombings, to 1983, when arrests finally destroyed its membership base, the FALN was the most organized, active, well-trained and deadly domestic terror group based in the United States.

The FALN was responsible for over 130 bombings during this period, including the January 1975 explosion in Manhattan’s historic Fraunces Tavern, which killed four and wounded 63. In October of that year, it set off, all within the span of an hour, 10 bombs in three cities, causing nearly a million dollars in damage. In August 1977, the FALN set off a series of bombs in Manhattan, forcing 100,000 workers to evacuate their offices; one person was killed, and six were injured. In 1979, the group even threatened to blow up the Indian Point nuclear energy facility located north of New York City. It later sent a communiqué warning the U.S. to “remember … that you have never experienced war on your vitals and that you have many nuclear reactors.” In 1980, FALN members stormed the Carter-Mondale election headquarters in Chicago, and the George H.W. Bush campaign headquarters in New York, holding employees there hostage at gunpoint. In 1981, they plotted to kidnap President Reagan’s son Ron. Plainly, the group was deadly serious about its objectives—a free, independent and socialist Puerto Rico—and zealous in its pursuit of them.

According to court documents, thoughout this time, Lopez, a Vietnam War veteran, was part of FALN’s “Central Command”—a member of the “triumvirate” that led the organization. In 1976, Lopez became a fugitive when federal investigators discovered a “bomb factory” in an apartment he had rented in Chicago. He would evade arrest for the next five years, actively planning robberies and training FALN members. According to the summary of the testimony of Alfredo Mendez, an FALN member who later became a government witness, Lopez even gave new members bomb-making lessons.

After arriving at the Milwaukee safe house for the first time in December 1979 or January 1980, Mendez was led to a basement workshop where Oscar Lopez told him that the day’s purpose was to instruct Mendez in the proper construction of various types of explosive and incendiary devices. … Mendez spent several hours being schooled in the tools and techniques of bomb manufacturing. Lopez described and demonstrated the techniques and watched while Mendez practiced. … Throughout the day’s instruction, Lopez had Mendez construct approximately 10 timing devices and firing circuits.

In May 1981, Lopez was arrested after police pulled him over for a traffic violation. He was caught with a handgun with a filed-down serial number and a fake ID. When investigators searched the Chicago apartment tied to his fake ID, they found bags of dynamite, blasting caps, a bomb timer, an automatic weapon and assorted paraphernalia, including a bomb-making manual for FALN members. He was eventually sentenced to 55 years in prison on a variety of charges, including seditious conspiracy, attempted armed robbery, explosives possession, car theft and weapons violations.

Although there was strong circumstantial evidence of Lopez’s participation in FALN attacks—he traveled to New York from Chicago the day before five bombs were detonated there in 1974, and left the city the day after, for instance—law enforcement officials were never been able to conclusively link him to specific bombings. The FALN’s tradecraft was unusually sophisticated, and the group conducted extensive countersurveillance before striking, which has allowed Lopez’s supporters, and supporters of clemency for other FALN members convicted of seditious conspiracy, to claim that the group consists of nonviolent offenders. This has the virtue of being true in the narrow, legalistic sense, and yet comprehensively false. (The FALN turncoat Mendez, for example, testified that Lopez masterminded a botched 1980 plot to rob an armored truck in Evanston, Illinois, with machine guns; Lopez assured Mendez “that they had done this type of job before and knew how it was done. They bragged in particular about a big armored truck job that they had done in New York.”)

Lopez remained active, even while in prison. In fact, he received an additional 15-year sentence in 1987, after the FALN was largely defunct, for an audacious jailbreak plot (the second of two) that, according to the FBI, “involved flying a helicopter stocked with machine guns and explosives into the Leavenworth recreational yard.” Aided by two radicals affiliated with the Weather Underground, Lopez’s plan apparently included “riddl[ing] guard towers with rounds from automatic weapons, and throw[ing] grenades in the path of those who pursued” the escapees.

In addition to its devotion to “armed struggle,” as FALN members themselves characterized their actions, the group’s connections to Cuba, while still opaque, should also give pause to some of Lopez’s supporters. In the mid-1970s, Fidel Castro made Puerto Rican independence a major plank of his country’s foreign policy, much to the consternation of the Ford and Carter administrations. Over this period, Cuba had very close relations to the main pro-independence party in Puerto Rico, the PSP. (The FBI, in fact, held that by the early 1960s, Juan Mari Brás, the PSP’s leader, was a paid Cuban agent). And, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the prominent Puerto Rican revolutionary Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, who later co-founded the FALN, was recruited by Cuba’s General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) as an operative as early as 1963. U.S. authorities claim that Cuban intelligence gave Ojeda Ríos training in espionage and bomb-making techniques, which he then passed on to other pro-independence militants. According to the FBI, by 1973, 135 Puerto Rican radicals had received “extensive instruction in guerrilla war tactics, preparation of explosive artifacts and sophisticated methods of sabotage” within Cuba itself.

***

Despite the group’s violent history, for decades powerful voices in Puerto Rico and the United States have agitated for a presidential pardon for FALN members. In 1999, amid significant controversy—the Senate denounced President Clinton’s actions in a 95-2 vote—Clinton offered clemency to 12 members of the group. (As with Obama’s commutation of Lopez, none of the 12 FALN members whose sentences were commuted by Clinton had been convicted of violent crimes.) Clinton’s conditional offer required that FALN members “refrain from the use or advocacy of the use of violence for any purpose.” Clinton offered Lopez this same deal. He refused it. Perhaps it was because he could not, in good conscience, agree to abide by its conditions: For example, in a 1986 interview, Lopez said the FALN’s cause “is a just struggle, and because it’s a just struggle, we have the right to wage it by any means necessary, including armed struggle. … We can anticipate more violence.”

Clinton’s 1999 clemency offers were undertaken under some unusual political circumstances. At the time, Hillary Clinton was gearing up to run for an open Senate seat in New York, then home to over 1 million Puerto Ricans, the largest population in the United States. Puerto Ricans make up an important and influential Democratic constituency in the state, and many accused the president of granting the commutations in order to drive Hispanic voters to his wife’s candidacy. Facing stiff political headwinds, and harsh criticism from New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani, her probable Republican opponent in the Senate race, Hillary Clinton released a public statement disavowing the FALN commutations.

Regardless of whether Hillary’s race was a factor in Bill’s decision, political and popular pressure surely was. Over 400 Puerto Rican civic and nonprofit organizations lobbied Bill Clinton for FALN pardons, as did the Puerto Rican Bar Association, labor and business leaders, and a number of distinguished politicians on the island. In Congress, the lobbying effort was led by Representatives Jose Serrano, Nydia Velazquez and Luis Gutierrez, all Democrats.

During the Obama years, the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus lobbied President Obama for Lopez’s release, as did Senator Sanders, former Puerto Rico Governer Alejandro García Padilla, and many other prominent figures. As with Bill Clinton’s 1999 actions, it strains credulity that Obama would release Lopez were his cause not championed by powerful politicians within his own party, and if Puerto Ricans did not represent an important, and increasingly strategically located, Democratic voting bloc. (Florida’s Puerto Rican population, in particular, has grown exponentially, and now stands at over 1 million. According to estimates, it will outnumber that state’s Republican-leaning Cuban population by 2020.)

Looked at this way, whether Lopez deserved clemency—which is an act of presidential mercy, and not recognition of his innocence—is immaterial. His release, as well as the release of 12 FALN members in 1999, is a particularly noisome example of interest group politics, played out on the national stage. (As Melissa Mark-Viverito said to the New York Post upon hearing of Obama’s commutation: “When people think of what did he do for Puerto Rico, it’s going to be that he freed Oscar.”)

For their part, Republicans have been susceptible to the same kind of interest-group pressure, proving that politicians’ moral outrage over civilian deaths caused by extremists can be easily subordinated to amoral calculations about raw interest. For instance, the Cuban-American community has long lobbied Republicans for leniency regarding anti-Castro Cuban extremists, often quite successfully. In 1991, George H.W. Bush released from jail Orlando Bosch, a notorious anti-Castro terrorist implicated in the 1976 Cubana Airlines bombing that killed 73, offering him U.S. residency. When Jeb Bush was governor of Florida, he was instrumental in securing the 2001 release of two Cuban-American terrorists convicted of assassinating a leftist Chilean ex-diplomat and his American colleague in Washington, D.C. in 1976. And in 2005, President George W. Bush treated another prominent anti-Castro Cuban terrorist, Luis Posada (who was also implicated in the Cubana Airlines bombing), with extreme dutifulness when Posada decided to sneak back into the country after a 2000 attempt to assassinate Castro in Panama. Both parties, then, have shown themselves to be rather “soft on terrorism” when it suits their needs.

Lopez, meanwhile, will likely be treated to a hero’s welcome when he returns to Puerto Rico, a place he has not lived since he was a child. As much as things have changed since then, he will find that one salient fact has endured: As during the 1970s and 1980s, support for outright independence is almost nonexistent. Perhaps he will find solace in the company of his old comrades from the FALN, some of whom now live in freedom on the island; perhaps he will even try to visit Cuba to reconnect with William Morales, FALN’s premier bomb-maker, who, after a 1979 escape from a New York prison, was eventually granted refuge under Castro. The mere thought must drive federal law enforcement officials to apoplexy. When the Obama administration announced its rapproachement with Cuba in 2015, few, I suspect, could have imagined Lopez and Morales walking along the Malecón, together, as free men.

Zach Dorfman is senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

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Puerto Rico’s crisis: capitalism, colonialism and climate change

Communist Party USAFeb 15, 2018
This is the legacy of the martyrs and heroes of the resistance, among whom is Oscar Lopez Rivera, political prisoner with his sentence commuted by President Obama after imprisonment for 35 years. Oscar Lopez Rivera is living in Puerto Rico and traveling widely as international voice of the people.

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera secret deal from CBS News

Oscar Lopez Rivera booed and cheered at New York’s Puerto Rican …

CBS NewsJun 11, 2017
NEW YORK — Oscar Lopez Rivera may not have officially been honored as a National Freedom Hero in the city’s Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, but the fervent nationalist who spent decades in … City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito blamed journalists for turning the debate into a big deal.

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera secret deal from NPR

Pardon Sought For Prisoner Who Fought For Puerto Rican …

NPRJan 15, 2017
Celebrities, politicians and activists, ranging from Bernie Sanders to Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, are asking President Obama to grant clemency to a man who was part of a militant group that fought for Puerto Rican independence. Oscar López Rivera has been in …

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera secret deal from Fox News

The Latest: Venezuela’s leader praises Puerto Rico militant

Fox NewsMay 17, 2017
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has spoken on the phone with newly freed Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera. … gratitude to the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua — as well as U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for commuting the …

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera secret deal from The Independent

Barack Obama commutes sentence of Puerto Rican independence …

The IndependentJan 18, 2017
Now 74, he has spent more than half his life in prison and was due to remain behind bars until June 2023 – when he would have been 80. During his last days in office in 1999, then president Bill Clinton offered to shorten López Rivera’s sentence but the prisoner rejected the deal because it did not include …

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera secret deal from Wall Street Journal

How Fidel Castro Supported Terrorism in America

Wall Street JournalJun 8, 2017
The decision to honor Oscar López Rivera, a terrorist who spent 35 years in federal prison, at New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday unleashed a firestorm. Organizers named López Rivera—released in February under an 11th-hour clemency from President Obama —the parade’s first-ever “National …

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera secret deal from Miami Herald

Trump says he admires Puerto Ricans. They ask, where’s the proof?

Miami HeraldSep 28, 2017
A number of politicians, corporate sponsors and groups including firefighters and police officers bailed out of the parade this year after organizers honored controversial Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera. He was released from prison after former president Barack Obama commuted his 55-year …

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera secret deal from Foreign Affairs

Castro’s Legacy in Puerto Rico

Foreign AffairsDec 13, 2016
There were few causes closer to Fidel Castro’s heart—and none more likely to arouse the ire of his country’s superpower neighbor—than the status of Puerto Rico, which came under U.S. control after the Spanish–American War in 1898, the very same conflict that led to Cuba’s independence. Given Cuba’s …

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera secret deal from teleSUR English

Prospects for Cuba’s Revolution in 2018

teleSUR EnglishJan 2, 2018
TeleSUR speaks to Cuba expert Arnold August about Raul Castro’s impending retirement and U.S.-Cubarelations. … the youth communist daily Juventud Rebelde hailed the 70,000 youth participating in voluntary work, and the international Youth and Student Festival in Sochi, it also did deal with 2018.

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico Lopez Rivera secret deal from amNY

Melissa Mark-Viverito jumps the shark by welcoming Oscar Lopez …

amNYMay 23, 2017
Maybe that explains why Mark-Viverito would do something so callous and politically inexplicably as inviting the former FALN leader, Oscar Lopez Rivera, to lead the Puerto Rican Day Parade down Fifth Avenue on June 11. The group Rivera led was responsible for more than 120 bombings, including, …
Firefighters’ union boycotts Puerto Rican Parade for honoring …
<a href=”http://TheBlaze.com” rel=”nofollow”>TheBlaze.com</a>May 23, 2017

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Why Did Obama Free This Terrorist?

PoliticoJan 24, 2017
On January 17, 2017, as one of the final acts of his presidency, Barack Obama commuted the sentence of 74-year-old Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Puerto Rican nationalist who had served 35 years of a 55-year conviction for the crime of “seditious conspiracy,” as well as attempted robbery, explosives and …
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Hurricanes, Havana and Caribbean Investment Opportunities

SarasotaFeb 28, 2018
Collin Laverty, president of Cuba Educational Travel, noted that the excitement of the Cuban people when Obama lifted travel and business … look at the power and destruction of Irma and Maria, with speakers describing a devastated landscape and collapsed economy in Puerto Rico and other islands, …

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico from Rio Grande Guardian

Emilio Cueto, Cuba in the USA

Rio Grande GuardianFeb 13, 2018
The Obama Administration recently relaxed some travel restrictions for religious persons, journalists and Cuban Americans. Cueto explained that the actual … Thus arises the issue of a ‘Doppleganger’ brand like Havana Club Rum manufactured both in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Cueto says that Havana Club …

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico from TOPHOTELNEWS (press release)

Everything You Need to Know About Hotel Construction in North …

TOPHOTELNEWS (press release)Mar 9, 2018
In addition to the United States, it also includes hotels that are coming soon to Canada, Mexico and sunny Caribbean countries such as Cuba, the … Costa Rica is sixth with 14 smaller projects for 2,519 rooms, St. Lucia is seventh with 8 projects for 1,709 rooms, Puerto Rico is eighth with 6 projects for 1,190 …

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico from The Independent

America has been slow to respond to Puerto Rico’s crisis because it …

The IndependentSep 26, 2017
In the Seventies, the US introduced tax breaks to lure US multinationals to the island. But in the 1990s, President Bill Clinton began winding down those provisions, effectively putting the economy on a slow skid to where it is today. Barack Obama always seemed more interested in Cuba than Puerto Rico.

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico from Breitbart News

Cuba Awards ‘Order of Solidarity’ to Puerto Rican Terrorist Freed by …

Breitbart NewsNov 14, 2017
Prolific Puerto Rican terrorist Óscar López Rivera, responsible for placing over 130 bombs throughout the United States and causing millions in property damage, landed in Cuba this week to receive the nation’s “Order of Solidarity” and honor dead tyrant Fidel Castro. López Rivera, who served 36 years in …

Story image for Obama cuba puerto rico from PanAm Post

Cuban Dictatorship Invites Over Puerto Rican Terrorist Released by …

PanAm PostMay 19, 2017
Cuban Dictatorship Invites Over Puerto Rican Terrorist Released by Obama “The Cuban Party, government and people send our fraternal congratulations,” Castro told Lopez Rivera. “We share the joy of your liberation.” (Impactony). EspañolCuba President Raul Castro congratulated Puerto Rican …
Freed Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Phones Maduro, Backs …
<a href=”http://Venezuelanalysis.com” rel=”nofollow”>Venezuelanalysis.com</a>May 19, 2017

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Blooming US business interest in Cuba wilts under Trump

ReutersNov 10, 2017
“When we are able to deliver the speed, convenience and security our customers have come to expect from Xoom, we will launch in Cuba,” a PayPal spokeswoman told Reuters. Still, some companies made headway. After receiving all the necessary licenses under Obama, the Puerto Rican dealer for U.S. …
Trump’s New Cuba Sanctions Miss Their Mark
InternationalAmericas QuarterlyNov 9, 2017
Everything changes in Cuba | The new day
 

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I have been traveling to Cuba since 1994, when the so-called special period lashed at its worst moment and the country was plunged into an economic crisis of such magnitude that caused the Cubans to undergo all kinds of vicissitudes.

Since then I went in and out of the island multiple times, until in 2015 I started an almost permanent relationship that keeps me living in Havana as a journalistic correspondent.

What have I seen in Cuba in all this time? Well I have to answer that the country has changed, and a lot.

Who does not know the Cuban reality and measures it exclusively for what they tell him or her for the parameters that are the system itself or from the unbreakable rage oozing opponents in exile or sporadic contacts of a holiday plan, because an incorrect judgment is made about what is really happening in this country.

Let’s start with some simple examples.

In 1994 a Cuban could not walk with a foreigner unless he had allowed that authorized, to regulation that today is seen as absurd; that the nationals loaded foreign currency was illegal, today the currency is in common use; that the nationals entered the hotels were forbidden, today their stays are as important as the tourists; that there were bars, restaurants, mechanic workshops, hairdressers and many other private businesses, because it was unthinkable, but today they are operating here.

Yes, there have been advances in Cuba. That they do not go at the speed that the Cubans themselves wanted, of course they did; that the country requires a collective “upgrade” in many aspects, of course; that the Cuban system is not in harmony with other socialist experiences like those of China or Vietnam, too; that the United States and the community in exile want everything to fall for them to put together their rumba, because that has no discussion; that in the name of that battle with the United States and exile, no necessary transformations are made, that theory I buy it equally; that in Cuba there are good things and bad things, because that is a fact, and I can attest, because I live it daily, without anyone telling me, because this country is not as perfect as they may want to paint it, but neither is it Dantesque hell that some seek to draw.

Of course, daring to put in black and white what is the balance of an experience lived in a foreign country, will bring with it the typical reactions provoked by the Cuban theme. Those who support the system will analyze these lines from their perspective and could label them as “antirevolutionary”, while those who oppose it will label me as a “communist and lover of the Castro”. And that is precisely where I want to go, to that polarization that is the main enemy of the social update that Cuba requires progress at a more firm and faster pace, according to the times.

Those who from the outside promote the imposition of an American-style model in Cuban society do not fully understand that with the use of force what they do is feed and strengthen the internal forces that favor the status quo.

Es por eso que la estrategia del expresidente Barack Obama fue tan certera y alcanzó que Cuba promoviera una serie de ajustes que eran impensables una década atrás. El tema del acercamiento con Estados Unidos le dio voz y abrió la posibilidad para que reformistas internos (que los hay, incluso en las rígidas estructuras políticas cubanas, y son más de lo que mucha gente piensa) dieran importantes pasos de avance con el visto bueno de la alta jerarquía gubernamental, que dio un voto de confianza al deshielo.

El cambio hacia la ruta opuesta promovido por Trump liquidó esas voces y provocó un detente en un proceso de avance que estaba asumido en Cuba, pues le dio la razón a quienes defienden que las cosas se queden como están, ya que ellos señalaron siempre que Estados Unidos volvería en algún momento a su antigua conducta, lo que, por desgracia, ha pasado, y ha traído una desaceleración en lo que aquí se conoce como la “Actualización del Modelo Cubano”.

Es en ese marco que Cuba vivirá en los próximos 45 días un proceso que no será menor. El 19 de abril, Raúl Castro Ruz dejará la presidencia del país. Es cierto que todo apunta a que mantendrá su sitial como secretario general del Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC) y su rango de general de Ejército, pero es igualmente correcto que por primera vez desde 1959, Cuba no tendrá como presidente a un Castro Ruz. Eso, le guste o no a seguidores o detractores, es un cambio mayor.

Ya no será un Castro Ruz quien hable a nombre de Cuba en la Asamblea General de la ONU, no será un Castro Ruz quien se dirija en las cumbres regionales, no será un Castro Ruz quien reciba oficialmente a los mandatarios de otros países o quien hable en la televisión nacional cuando haya una emergencia nacional.

Y ése es el mayor cambio que habrá en este país en décadas. Surgirán argumentos como pasaba con su fenecido hermano, a quien se le atribuía gobernar desde la trastienda, pero lo cierto es que una transformación importante se avecina en Cuba, y quien no lo vea, debe quitarse las gríngolas, porque por estos lares, como es norma de vida y dice la canción, aunque sea a paso de tortuga, “cambia, todo cambia”.

Colombia’s new, legal drug lords hope to sell medical marijuana to the world – The Washington Post
 

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James Clapper: Not credible to say Russian meddling had no impact

FCC chairman proposes $954 million plan for Puerto Rico, USVI Caribbean Business
 

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SAN JUAN — Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai proposed Tuesday to direct about $954 million toward “restoring and expanding” communications networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that were damaged by September’s hurricanes.

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González will be returning with Pai Wednesday for a roundtable with industry representatives to discuss the telecommunications’ recovery progress, the industry’s challenges and the proposed funding.

Pai will be traveling to Puerto Rico and USVI from March 7-10 to review recovery efforts, “evaluate lessons learned” from hurricanes Irma and Maria, and “prepare for the upcoming hurricane season,” according to his office.

The FCC chairman proposed to create a $750 million Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund (Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund) and a $204 million Connect USVI Fund. According to an FCC release. Each of these would provide “additional short-term assistance for restoring communications networks” and “longer-term support for expanding broadband access” on the islands.

“The people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still recovering from last year’s devastating storms. That means the FCC’s work is far from over,” Pai says in the release. “After my previous visit to Puerto Rico, I publicly committed to ‘thinking creatively and doing proactively to help restore networks on the island.’ The plan I’ve proposed today would deliver on that commitment and extend that vision even further.”

According to Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board data, as of Feb. 2, 98.5% of telecommunications are up and running and 2,487 of 2,671, or 93.11%, of the island’s cell sites are operational.

Reuters reports that, as of Monday, the FCC said 4.3 percent of cell sites in Puerto Rico and 14 percent of sites in the U.S. Virgin Islands remained out of service.

He further says that “with the 2018 hurricane season less than three months away, we need to take bold and decisive action. I hope that my fellow commissioners will join me in supporting the creation of the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and Connect USVI Fund.”

The following are included in the plan, per the release:

  • An immediate infusion of approximately $64 million in additional funding for short-term restoration efforts.
  • A proposal to allocate approximately $631 million in long-term funding for the restoration and expansion of fixed broadband connectivity in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • A proposal to allocate approximately $259 million in medium-term funding for the restoration and expansion of 4G LTE mobile broadband connectivity in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • The immediate conversion of the advanced funding the Commission provided last year to carriers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands into new funding by declining to offset that advanced funding against future universal service support payments.

The plan would be funded by providing approximately $256 million in new funds as well as “repurposing universal service support currently directed” to Puerto Rico and the USVI.

The plan needs FCC approval and would be largely funded by the Universal Service Fund, which provides federal subsidies to companies to make communications services more accessible and affordable in places where the cost is high.

FCC chairman to visit Puerto Rico, USVI in March

While in Puerto Rico, the officials will also meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to discuss advances related to fiber optics and they will end their work agenda with a meeting with radio stations.

More than a month ago, the FCC official agreed to the resident commissioner’s petition to allow local TV stations to access more broadcast channels, according to a release from González’s office.

–Reuters contributed to this report.

IMPRESSIVE!!! Drone Footage Historic Coastal Floods in Puerto Rico 2018 – YouTube
 

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IMPRESSIVE!!! Drone Footage Historic Coastal Floods in Puerto Rico 2018

Liquidity in the Electric Power Authority improves
 

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A little over a month ago, the Fiscal Oversight Board (JSF) asked Judge Laura Taylor Swain to authorize $ 1,300 million as soon as possible so that the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) could continue to operate.

Yesterday, Martin Bienenstock, told that the things in the PREPA are better than previously believed.

In a presentation that lasted approximately 10 minutes, Bienenstock told Swain that, based on the information he had received from the government, PREPA no longer has the urgency to borrow more money because it has recovered the billing levels it had before the hurricanes Irma and María will pull down part of the Puerto Rico electrical system.

According to Bienenstock, as a result of the recovery of the PREPA income and after the loan of $ 300 million, the public corporation can operate “by itself” at least until next May, when it may need new financing.

Bienenstock’s expressions about the PREPA were the first item on the agenda of the March general hearing in the Title III Promise cases held yesterday, when the lawyer anticipated that the JSF and the Financial Advisory Authority and Tax Agency (Aafaf)) could make a new financing request next month.

“I like to hear that PREPA’s revenues have increased,” Swain told Bienenstock, revealing a kind of smile on his lips.

On February 19, after listening to arguments for almost six hours, Swain concluded that PREPA did not need the multi-million dollar amount requested by the JSF and Aafaf but the $ 300 million that it finally approved.

De acuerdo con Bienenstock, luego que la jueza Swain aprobara el financiamiento de $300 millones, la JSF y la Aafaf ponderaban regresar este mismo mes a la corte para solicitar un nuevo préstamo por $550 millones. En dicha solicitud, explicó el abogado, se contemplaba refinanciar los $300 millones ya otorgados por el Fondo General y $250 millones de nuevo capital. Pero esa estrategia tiene menos de 50% de probabilidad de convertirse en realidad, indicó Bienenstock.

La caja de la AEE

Según el asesor financiero de la AEE, Todd Filsinger, se debe activar un plan de emergencia para reducir operaciones y apagar plantas generadoras si los niveles de efectivo en la corporación pública se reducen a $100 millones, porque no habría dinero para comprar combustible o pagar la nómina de los trabajadores.

Según un reporte de liquidez de la AEE del pasado 5 de marzo ante la Junta Reglamentadora de Valores Municipales (MSRB, en inglés), desde enero hasta la semana que concluyó el 23 de febrero, la AEE recaudó $327.6 millones con la venta de electricidad asus clientes. En la semana del 23 de febrero, la AEE recibió el préstamo del Fondo General y, en esa fecha, había en caja unos $288 millones.

Partiendo del informe de la AEE que muestra las proyecciones de efectivo a 13 semanas, luego de la inyección de $300 millones que aprobó Swain, ese posible escenario catastrófico en el que la liquidez quedaría por debajo de la marca de $100 millones no se daría hasta mayo próximo.

Ese escenario parte de la premisa de que la AEE cobraría semanalmente de sus abonados entre $20 millones y $31 millones. Se trata de cifras menores a la tendencia que la AEE ha reflejado desde principios de enero. Según el reporte, en ese periodo, el ingreso promedio semanal por facturación a los abonados rondó $40.95 millones.

Cambio de cifras

No es la primera vez que la JSF y el gobierno describen cuadros adversos de las finanzas públicas de Puerto Rico que no se materializan.

El año pasado, la JSF dijo a Swain que necesitaba acceder a los recaudos del Impuesto sobre Ventas y Uso (IVU) en manos de la Corporación del Fondo de Interés Apremiante (Cofina) porque el gobierno federal quedaría sin dinero en diciembre pasado, pero eso no sucedió.

Asimismo, en octubre pasado, la Aafaf dijo a la JSF que los recaudos del Fondo General podrían colapsar hasta en 50% como secuela del huracán María y que eso hacía indispensable obtener cuanto antes el préstamo de emergencia bajo el programa de Comunidades Afectadas por Desastres (CDL, en inglés).

Sin embargo, el Tesoro federal -que determina las condiciones de dicho préstamo- ha concluido que la urgencia de allegar efectivo es menor de lo que reclama el gobierno, porque, consistentemente, el balance en la cuenta principal del gobierno o TSA, en inglés, se muestra por encima de $1,500 millones a pesar de la devastación ocasionada por el huracán María.

Now, however, the improvement in PREPA’s cash could affect the efforts of the central government for the Federal Treasury to disburse the CDL because, among the conditions to release the loan, it included that the TSA account has a balance of less than $ 800 millions.

Until last February 23 and after disbursing the loan of $ 300 million to PREPA, the TSA account held by the Department of the Treasury showed a cash balance of $ 1,560 million.

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello on Monday pressed proposals for privatizing the U.S. commonwealth’s shattered electrical grid as part of its painstaking recovery from devastating September hurricanes.

Rossello used his State of the State speech to say that he had introduced an energy reform bill on Monday, while outlining ideas for cutting taxes, increasing police pay and introducing education reforms.

Puerto Rico Governor Rossello speaks during a Facebook live broadcast, in San JuanHurricanes Maria and Irma killed dozens of people and caused an estimated $100 billion in damage to a recession-bound economy in which more than 45 percent of its 3.4 million U.S. citizens live in poverty.

Rossello also repeated his call for the federal government to stop treating Puerto Ricans as “second-class U.S. citizens” in terms of disaster relief.

“Disaster response should not be based on the notion of being Republican or Democrat, but rather on the equal treatment and aid to U.S. citizens,” Rossello said, while recognizing support from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, who was in Puerto Rico and attended the event.

RELATED: Why does restoring full power in Puerto Rico seem like a never-ending task?

In January, Rossello announced his intention to sell off the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s power generation assets, and said it could take about 18 months to complete.

On Monday he said the energy reform bill would “define the process” for privatized and public-private partnerships (P3s). These so-called P3 projects would shift development costs onto the private sector, and in return typically would be paid fees from government to manage a property.

Hurricane Maria took out the island’s power. More than 5 months later, 12.5 percent, or 185,200, of customers, do not have electricity, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Puerto Rico’s Christmas in the dark 4:20

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The goal is to reduce Puerto Rico’s high energy costs to less than 20 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). A year ago, PREPA, Puerto Rico’s electric utility, was instructed by the federally appointed Financial Oversight and Management Board to achieve customer rates no higher than 21 cents per kWh by 2023.

Under a 2016 federal Puerto Rico rescue law known as PROMESA, the board was given the authority to push Puerto Rico into a court-supervised restructuring akin to U.S. bankruptcy, which it did in May as it reeled under $120 billion in combined bond and pension debt.

RELATED: Anger grows and hope fades as Puerto Rico’s ground zero remains without power

The board extended the deadline for certifying the government’s revised fiscal plan to March 30, which Rossello said “should be approved within the next weeks.”

“This plan cannot be merely fiscal; it needs to be transformative and include the aspirations of our people,” he said.

Image: PUERTORICO-WEATHER-HURRICANE-MARIAHis plan calls for using $18 billion in additional funding from the U.S. federal budget to turn a deficit into a surplus of $3.4 billion within six years.

While Rossello has focused on cutting spending by reorganizing and reducing the size of the government, he is advocating more resources for police including a salary increase of $1,500 per officer, and higher pay for teachers.

Rosello also vowed once again to cut income taxes for individuals and businesses, and reduce sales tax on prepared food. Once completed, individual taxpayers could see savings from $450 to $950 a year, the governor projected.

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